Revolution #147, November 16, 2008

New York City Marathon:

Running for Revolution

Last year three of us did a bicycle “Ride for Revolution” and successfully raised $1,500 in pledges for Revolution newspaper. So I was thinking about this and decided to do a similar fundraiser by running the New York City Marathon—asking friends to pledge a certain amount of money per mile of the 26.2 miles. On November 2, I ran, and finished (!) the race with $1399 of pledges.

About a month before the race I sent an email appeal based on the August announcement in Revolution of the fall initiatives of the Revolutionary Communist Party which challenged people with some urgent questions, including: What kind of society do we want to—and are we willing to—live in? What kind of future will we have? Do we still dare dream of revolution? And is there a viable vision of what that is, and a leadership to point the way? I emphasized the newspaper and its role in building a revolutionary movement. And I updated events with the elections, Sarah Palin and the financial crisis. One woman emailed back immediately commenting on how inspiring the email was.

I sent this to many friends who are around World Can’t Wait, old runner friends of mine who live in Detroit, some relatives and people I’ve met over the years selling the paper. The people who responded the most were friends I met originally through my work with WCW, who are actively involved in WCW from many different political perspectives. None of them would describe themselves as revolutionaries but they have come to know of Revolution newspaper over the past year or more. And as the situation in the world has intensified overall, and especially as the elections approached, many have come to look to the paper more for its analysis. This has led to some very intense and contentious discussions. A few of those who pledged attended discussions of the article by Bob Avakian “The Objective Situation, the Bush Regime and the Bourgeois Elections.” With a couple of people the issue of the newspaper with the manifesto of the RCP, “Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage” played an important role in getting into what exactly is needed in the entire world today.

One significant donation was given by a man I met in Denver who was very supportive of both the WCW and the Revolution newspaper crews who were there to join in the protests at the Democratic National Convention.

Some of the people who responded to this appeal don’t necessarily read the paper regularly and some don’t read it at all. However, there is respect for my raising the questions and debating what is in the paper. Several runner friends in Detroit have been challenged by my sending them articles from Revolution about Obama that they didn’t agree with. When I lived in Detroit and ran with this Black running group, on long training runs we talked of everything from religion to revolution and mixed it all in with singing old Motown favorites. I remember how the coach of the group at one point said, referring to me, “You may not always agree with him but he is the conscience of our group.”

In the midst of this very enjoyable run on a beautiful fall day, I must have stepped on or around 25-50 NYC sewer manhole covers. Each one of them says on it “NYC Sewer. Made in India.” In the New York Times several months ago, there was a front page article telling about the factory in India where the covers are made. The photos showed emaciated-appearing men carrying, by hand, buckets of molten metal, walking barefoot and almost no clothes because of the heat. It detailed the injuries, illnesses and deaths in the place that had almost no safety equipment and no safety regulations. The NYC agency that contracted for the covers simply looked for the best price and found it from a company, I think in Connecticut, and had no idea from where they came or the conditions under which they are made.

Each time I ran past one of these manhole covers, through five NYC boroughs, for 26.2 miles, I was reminded of the lopsided relations in the world and how people in this country are at the top of a worldwide “food chain” and a standard of living that depends on hundreds of millions of people around the world living and working in conditions like those Indians making the manhole covers. The importance of Revolution newspaper and the need for revolution leapt up at me from those manhole covers.

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